Between sacred and profane: Possession, psychopathology, and the Catholic church.

In Catholic culture, and especially within the Italian Catholic environment, there has recently been a significant revival of the practice of exorcism. This is a fact noted by historians such as Levack (2013) and Young (2016). The article intends to show how this phenomenon is related to a series of important historical turning points, the most important of which is the recent collaboration between exorcists and Catholic psychologists and psychiatrists to establish a differential diagnosis between real possession and mere psychopathology. The recent revival of exorcism in Italy is particularly noteworthy because it reverses a slow but clear trend in the Catholic Church, in the course of the 20th century, that increasingly considered possessions either as delusional or very rare. The reality of the devil has never been denied by the Catholic Church, but until the Second Vatican Council, the tendency was to de-escalate the denunciations of its direct and personal presence in the world. The article describes this evolution up to the most recent developments, highlighting the historiographical entanglements related to the coexistence, within the scientific realm, of demonological and psychological themes and beliefs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)